On Wed, 31 Jan 1996, William L. Petersen wrote:
> A few comments on synoptic harmonization:
> 2) One source of these harmonizations is, of course, early gospel harmonies:
And the influence of these definitely should not be overlooked by NT
textual critics. Whereas Von Soden overemphasized the influence of
Tatian, modern scholars tend to minimize such when they really should not.
> 3) There has always been a tendency of scribes to harmonize subconsciously:
> the memory slips, or the "better known" version of a phrase guides the pen.
> In earlier periods (or in certain circles) there may have been a suspicion
> on the part of copyists that a word, phrase, or verse might have been
> omitted by some earlier "corrupter"
Also quite correct.
> With this in mind, one
> understands how an early scribe might presume that a reading "must" have
> been there originally, since it was in the parallel in another gospel; such
> a scribe would have no qualms in "restoring" it.
The problem here is that the majority of scribes rarely harmonized on any
regular or consistent basis. Proven harmonizations (evidenced by studying
singular readings of a MS) in most MSS are quite the rarity, and the
reasons for such when they do occur are likely familiarity with a certain
parallel passage which occurs to the mind (and hand) when copying.
> 4) The motives for harmonizations are complex:
And probably undiscernable in most cases.
> see my chapter "What Text
> Can NT Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach?" in B. Aland and J. Delobel, *NT
> Textual Criticism, Exegesis and Church History,* pp. 136-152).
The answer in any case will likely be the text determined by our
> harmonization was not a "one way," "one time" event (e.g., Mark influenced
> Matthew, OR Matthew influenced Mark...); rather, the process was on-going,
> repetitive, and "recursive":
I would not minimize the later lectionary use of all four gospels as
having a significant effect on harmonization moving in directions other
than toward Matthew, even though as the most popular gospel, most
harmonizations still would tend to head in that direction. I do not,
however, believe that deliberate scribal harmonization -- whenever it
occurred, or in which direction -- would ever on its own end up dominating
the entire textual tradition; other scribes and the cross-comparison and
correction of MSS by other exemplars would effectively prevent dominance
by a usurping reading.
> 6) The consideration and careful study of Patristic and versional evidence
> is *absolutely essential* if one wishes to address the problems of
> cross-gospel harmonization, for their evidence can often antedate ANY of the
> Greek gospel MS evidence.
I would consider Patristic evidence of significance, but I also know full
well that one cannot trust the Fathers, who themselves were often greater
harmonizers than the MSS they consulted (or their own faulty memory which
blended all four gospels into a mentally inseparable whole as much as
Tatian did in written form). I would not ignore the Fathers, but I
equally would not trust them to correct the MS evidence.
> 7) For later Greek gospel MSS (say, X-XIV cents.), one must also reckon with
> the "renaissance" of harmonization which took place during that period, and
> which is textually documented in the many vernacular gospel harmonies in
> esp. Western Europe, but also in the East (Arabic, Persian, etc.).
This process did not seriously affect the Greek NT MSS themselves
however, save in the minor modifications which can be seen primarily in
von Soden's Kr group of around 200 MSS of the 12th-14th centuries. That
group stands outside the basic Kx mainstream, however, and its effect did
not spill over into most MSS copied even during the centuries in question.
> to today, in translations: compare the RSV with the NRSV at Matt. 27.54
> with Mark 15.39; now compare the Greek.
Shame on them if such be the case. *:-)
I unfortunately do not have my NRSV
at hand, but will check it at the office tomorrow.
Maurice A. Robinson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Greek and New Testament
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina